8-year-old boy escapes militants & slavery, travels 3,500 miles to safety

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An eight-year-old boy traveled 3,500 miles, surviving violent militants, a desert trek, and slavery to make it to safety, according to Metro News.

Oumar, 8, and other locals in Tambaga, Mali were forced to flee on foot as jihadists attacked their village. After being separated from his parents, Oumar decided to join other refugees who trekked across the Sahara desert on foot and ended up in Libya.

The boy was captured with other migrants and refugees who were seeking a boat from Tripoli to Europe. After being captured, Oumar was kept in a camp where he was forced to work as a welder and painter.

Oumar was able to escape the camp and board a boat to Europe, but it was stopped and the boy was imprisoned in jail. The eight-year-old escaped the jail by hiding in a bin and made it onto another boat leaving Zawiya with another boy he met in the prison.

Libyan coastguards nearly stopped their boat trek, but the NGO lifeboat Ocean Viking intervened and rescued them. Oumar survived the boat trek that included over 336 passengers, many of whom died from dehydration or heat stroke.

The boy made it to safety in Ancona, Italy. Oumar memorized his father’s number and was able to speak with him after four months.

“Dad, I’m here, on the other side, in Europe,” the boy told his father, according to Alessandro Maria Fucili, director of CEIS, a migrant center in Ancona.

“The father was surprised, incredulous, he said happily, as if he had won the Olympics,” Fucili said. “Now [Oumar] is discovering Italy, he looks around, he observes curiously, he wants to go to school. The resilience of this little boy is striking.”

The boy’s trek to safety was confirmed by other boat passengers and the boy he met in prison.

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